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of canonical Scriptures, that the book was known by the name of Lopia, Wisdom,' as well as that of ‘Proverbs of Solomon. This title, which, better perhaps than that of Proverbs, expresses the chief subject of the work, seems not to have been invented by the primitive Christian writers, but to have been derived from still earlier times, and to have been handed down by that unwritten Jewish tradition of which Eusebins speaks.

In considering the appropriateness of the usual name of our book, we must see what is meant by the Jewish term mishle, “proverbs,” as we translate it. The word mashal has a much wider significance than our word "proverb.” It is derived from a root meaning “to be like," and therefore has primarily the meaning of comparison, similitude, and is applied to many discourses, sentences, and expressions which we should not class under the head of proverbs. Thus Balaam's prophecy is so called (Numb. xxii. 7, etc.); so too Job's didactic poem (Job xxvii. 1); the taunting satire in Isa. xiv. 4, etc.; the parables in Ezek. xvii. 2 and xx. 49, etc.; the song in Numb. xxi. 27, etc. It is often translated “parable" in the Authorized Version, even in the book itself (ch. xxvi. 7), and in the historical psalm (lxxviii.), the second verse of which St. Matthew (xiii. 35) tells us Christ fulfilled when he spake by parables. This would lead us to expect to find other meanings in the term and under the husk of the outward form. And, indeed, the Hebrew mashal is not confined to wise or pithy sayings, expressing in pointed terms the experience of men and ages; such an account would, as we see, be most inadequate to describe the various forms to which the term was applied. That there are in onr book numerous apothegms and maxims, enforcing moral traths, explaining facts in men's lives and the course of society, which are proverbs in the strictest sense of the word, is obvious; but a very large proportion of the utterances therein are not covered by that designation. If the notion of comparison at first restricted the term to sayings containing a simile, it soon overstepped the bounds of such limitation, and comprehended such brief sentences as conveyed a popular truth under figures or metaphors. Of this sort is the pointed query, “Is Saul also among the prophets ? ” (1 Sam. x. 12); and, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge (Ezek. xviii. 2); and, “Physician, heal thyself” (Luke iv. 23). In many so-called proverbs the contrasted objects are placed side by side, leaving the hearer to draw his own deduction. In the longer pieces so-named a single idea is worked out at some length in rhythmical form. Further, under this general category are contained also dark sayings, riddles, intricate questions (chidah), which have always had great attraction for Oriental minds. The Queen of Sheba, we are told, came to try Solomon with hard questions (1 Kings x. 1); as the Septuagint renders it, “with enigmas.” Probably such puzzles are found in ch. xxx., and in many of those passages which, according as they are pointed, are capable of very different interpretations. There is one other word used in this connection (ch. i. 6)-melitsah, which is rendered in the Authorized Version “ interpretation,” and in the Revised Version “a

figure; "it probably means a saying containing some obscure allusion, and
usually of a sarcastic nature. There are very few examples of this form in
our book.

The various kinds of proverbs have been divided by Hanneberg (“Revel.

Bibl.,' v. 41, quoted by Lesètre) into five classes : 1. Historical proverbs,

wherein an event of the past, or a word used on some momentous occasion,

has passed into a popular saying, expressive of some general sentiment or

idea. The saying about Saul mentioned just above is of this nature. Of

the historical proverb there seems to be no instance in our book. 2. Meta-

phorical proverbs. These are what we should most appropriately call

proverbs. They enunciate some moral truth under a figure drawn from

nature or life. Such are these: “In vain is the net spread in the eyes


any bird” (ch. i. 17); “Go to the ant, thon sluggard” (ch. vi. 6); “Let

a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly”

(ch. xvii. 12); “The contentions of a wife are a continual dropping” (ch.

xix. 13; xxvii. 15, 16). 3. Enigmas. These are either riddles like that of

Samson (Judg. xiv. 14), or obscure questions which needed thonght to eluci-

date them, and the kernel of which conveyed a moral truth. Such are the

words of Agur, “Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended ? ” etc.

(ch. xxx. 4); " The horseleech hath two daughters, Give, give” (ch. xxx.

15). 4. Parabolic proverbs. Herein are presented things and truths in

allegorical shape. Our blessed Lord has used this mode of teaching most
extensively, showing himself greater than Solomon. The best example of
this class is the treatment of Wisdom, e.g. “Wisdom hath builded her house,
she hath hewn out her 'seven pillars” (ch, ix. 1). 5. Didactical proverbs,
which give precise instruction on points of morals, religion, or behaviour,
and of which the first nine chapters afford very perfect instances, and the
rest of the book more concise and less developed examples.

The book is inscribed, “The Proverbs of Solomon, son of David, King of
Israel.” How this title is to be regarded, and to what portion or portions
of the work it applies, we shall see further on. Then (ch. i. 1–6) follows
a description of the writing and a recommendation of its importance and
utility. Its object is partly moral and partly intellectual; it seeks to
instruct in the way of wisdom, to edify those who have already made pro-
gress, and to discipline hearers to receive and assimilate the highest teach-
ing. The wisdom (chocmah, and in the plural of “excellence," chocmoth)
here first mentioned is no mere philosophical attainment, no merely secular
advancement in the knowledge of things; it is this—it includes the know-
ledge of all that can be known; but it is much more. It is distinctly
religious, and has for its object the directing man's life according to his
highest interests, so that it is equivalent to “the fear of the Lord,” that
is, practical religion, and is often interchanged with that expression. It
teaches what God requires of man, how God would have man behave in all circumstances of life; it teaches piety, duty, justice. King and peasant, the old and the young, learned and ignorant, are hereby taught what is acceptable in their several stations, ages, stages of intellectual development. Later on, Wisdom is personified as a great teacher, as dwelling with God from all eternity, assisting at the creation of the world, the original of all authority on earth.

We gather from various indications in our book that wisdom is regarded in a threefold respect: first, as an essential attribute of Almighty God; secondly, as revealed in creation ; thirdly, as communicated to man. It is the mind or thought of God; it is that by which he created the world; it is that which regulates and informs the moral being of man. The language used in such passages as ch. viii. 23–31 adapts itself to the idea of a representation of the Son of God, an anticipation of the incarnation of Jesus our Lord; and though we cannot suppose that Solomon had any clear notion of the Divine personality of Wisdom (for which, indeed, the stern monotheism of the age was not ripe), yet we may believe that it was not alien from the mind of the Holy Spirit that the Christian Church should see in these Solomonic utterances prophecies and adumbrations of the nature and operations of the Son of God made man, of him whom St. John calls the Word. It is of Wisdom as communicated to man that the Book of Proverbs chiefly treats, indicating the only way of obtaining and securing possession of her, and the incalculable blessings that attend her acquisition and usance.

It must further be observed, in connection with this subject, that the Hebrew, in his pursuit of Wisdom, was not like the heathen philosopher groping blindly after God, seeking to discover the great Unknown, and to form for himself a deity which should satisfy his moral instincts and solve the questions of the creation and government of the universe. The Hebrew started from the point where the heathen came to a pause. The Jew knew God already knew him by revelation; his aim was to recognize him in all relations—in nature, in life, in morality, in religion; to see this overruling Providence in all things whatsoever; to make this great truth control private, public, social, and political circumstances and conduct. This profound conception of Divine superintendence dominates all the reflections of the thinking man, and makes him own in every occurrence, even in every natural phenomenon, an expression of the mind and will of God. Hence comes the absolute trust in the justice of the supreme Ruler, in the wise ordering of events, in the certain distribution of rewards and punishments, in the regulated dispensing of prosperity and adversity. In such ways Wisdom reveals itself, and the intelligent man recognized its presence; and idealizing and personifying it, learned to speak of it in those high terms which we read of with awe in this section, seeing therein him who is invisible.

After this introduction there follows the first part of the book (ch. i. 7– ix. 18), consisting of fifteen admonitory discourses, addressed to youth, with the view of exhibiting the excellence of wisdom, encouraging the ardent pursuit thereof, and dissuading from folly, i.e. vice, which is its opposite. This is especially the hortatory or wisdom section of the book. It is usually regarded as a prelude to the collection of proverbs beginning at ch. x., and is compared to the proem of Eliha in Job xxxii. 6—22, before he addresses himself more particularly to the matter in hand. An analogous preface occurs in ch. xxii. 17-21 of our book, though this is short and intercalary. The section is divided by Delitzsch as above, though the portions are not very accurately defined by internal evidence. We have adopted this arrangement in the Commentary for convenience' sake. Commonly, each fresh warning or instruction is prefaced by the address, “My son " (e.g. ch. i. 8, 10, 15; ii. 1, etc.), but this is not universally the case, and no subdivisions can be accurately formed by attention to this peculiarity. The unity of the section consists in the subject and the mode of treatment, rather than in a regular course of instruction proceeding on definite lines, and leading to a climacteric conclusion. The motto of the whole is the noble maxim, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but the foolish despise wisdom and instruction.” Taking this as the basis of his lecture, Solomon proceeds with his discourse. He warns against fellowship with those who entice to robbery and murder (ch. i. 8-19). Wisdom addresses those who despise her, showing them their folly in rejecting her offers, and the security of those who hearken to her counsels (ch. i. 20—33). The teacher points out the blessings arising from the sincere and earnest pursuit of Wisdom-it delivers from the path of evil, and leads to all moral and religious knowledge (ch. ii.). Now comes an exhortation to obedience and faithfulness, self-sacrificing devotion to God, perfect resignation to his will (ch. iii. 1-18). Wisdom is introduced as the creative energy of God, who becomes the Protector of all who hold fast to her (ch. iii. 19-26). One condition for the attain. ment of wisdom and happiness is the practice of benevolence and rectitude in dealing with others (ch. iii. 27—35). Having previously spoken in his own name, and having also brought forward Wisdom making her appeal, the teacher now gives some recollections of his own early home and his father's advice, especially on the subject of discipline and obedience (ch. iv.). He returns to a matter before glanced at as one of the chief temptations to which youth was exposed, and gives an emphatic warning against adultery and impurity, while he beautifully commends honourable marriage (ch. v.). Then he warns against suretyship (ch. vi. 1-5), sloth (vers. 6–11), deceit and malice (vers. 12-19), and adultery (vers. 20-35). Keeping to the theme of his last discourse, the moralist again denounces the detestable sin of adultery, and enforces his admonition by an example which he had himself witnessed (ch. vii.). Working round again to Wisdom, as the object of all his discourses, the author introduces her as inviting all to follow her, descanting on her excellence, her heavenly origin, her inestimable blessings. This is the most important section concerning Wisdom, which here appears as coeternal with God and co-operating with him in creation. Thus her supreme excellence is an additional reason for hearkening to her instructions (ch. viii.). Summing ap in brief the warnings which have preceded, Solomon introduces Wisdom and Folly, her rival, inviting severally to their companionship (ch. ix.).

The next part of our book contains the first great collection of Solomonic proverbs, some four hundred in number; or, as others say, three hundred and seventy-five (ch. x.—xxii. 16). They are introduced with the title, “The Proverbs of Solomon,” and fully correspond to their description, being a series of apothegms, gnomes, and sentences, containing ideas moral, religious, social, political, introduced apparently without order, or with only some verbal connection or common characteristics, and certainly not arranged on any systematic scheme. Of the form of these maxims we shall speak later; we here only mention some of the subjects with which they are concerned. This part of the work begins by drawing comparisons between the righteous and sinners, in their general conduct, and the consequences that result therefrom (ch. x.).

“ Treasures of wickedness profit nothing:

But righteousness delivereth from death" (ch. X. 2). He that gathereth in summer is a wise son:

But he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame” (ch. 5). “The memory of the just is blessed :

But the name of the wicked shall rot” (ch. x. 7).
The same distinction is maintained in conduct to neighbours-

“ A false balance is abomination to the Lord :

But a just weight is his delight” (ch. xi. 1).
“He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him:

But blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it” (ch. xi. 26). Then we have maxims on social and domestic life

A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband :

But she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones" (ch. xii. 4). The righteous man regardeth the life of his beast :

But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (ch. xii. 10). The difference between the godly and sinners is seen in the use they respectively make of temporal goods

“There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing:

There is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great wealth” (ch. xiii. 7). “Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished:

But he that gathereth by labour shall have increase" (ch. xiii. 11). The relations between rich and poor, wise and fools, exhibit the same male

“ He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth :

But he that hath pity on the poor, happy is he!” (ch. xiv. 21).
“ The foolish make a mock at guilt:
But among the upright there is favour” (ch, xiv. 9).

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